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Marijuiana Essay, Research Paper

Crime or Past Time

According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Presently, law enforcement arrests a marijuana smoker every 45 seconds in America at a tremendous cost to society. The marijuana issue often times goes in many directions such as legalization, decriminalization, and prohibition. There are good arguments to all three directions. The key to which direction to choose is not that easy. One must way the positives and the negatives of each direction before coming to a final decision(2).

How does marijuana affect the human mind?

Marijuana contains 460 chemical ingredients. THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) is the one that affects the brain the most. First marijuana has to enter the body; it can be eaten, but most often it is smoked through a pipe, bong, or rolled into a joint. After marijuana is smoked the THC enters the lungs and then goes to the bloodstream, which then carries the THC to the brain. Once the drug gets to the brain it binds with proteins called receptors on the surface of nerve cells. These cells then send sensations through the body causing the person to feel intoxicated(Stiefell 3).

William J. Goode has described the effects of intoxication as follows:

Euphoria, relaxation; a sense of one s mind wandering, a kind of stream of consciousness; a sensation that time is slowed down an impairment of one s short-term memory; a feeling of ravenous hunger; a strong increase in the enjoyment of one s senses food tastes better, music sounds richer, more exciting, touch becomes more sensuous, one s sexual orgasm becomes more intense; one feels far more inclined to find things amusing, silly, uproarious; moving about feels more sensuous, smoother, more graceful and sensuous; one feels a kind of floating sensation; there is a reduced and impaired ability to think logically, rationally, in a linear fashion; one finds it difficult or impossible to read well or at all; there is a kind of eureka feeling about ordinarily common and usually uninteresting experiences and insights(Eitzen and Zinn 505).

Legalization of marijuana could have some positive affects in the United States. First and probably the biggest would be the money that could be saved or used on more serious issues. Also if government would regulate marijuana it could generate huge amounts of revenue. They could do this by manufacturing it themselves or leaving it up to the private sector and imposing taxes similar to that of cigarettes. The second way it could be positive is it would more than likely lower the crime rates. It could lower the crime rates by making it legal to possess marijuana and people would not turn to crime to get the illegal drug because if it were legal it would be less expensive.

The prohibition of marijuana costs American taxpayers 7.5 billion dollars every year. It cost 23,000 dollars to incarcerate a nonviolent marijuana offender for one year. A lot of the people who smoke marijuana are individuals that are law-abiding citizens who have a job, raise families, and contribute to their community. Nonviolent marijuana offenders often times have to serve more time than their counter part violent offenders(NORML 2-3). Is this ethical?

America tried alcohol prohibition between 1919 and 1931. The only thing that Americans got out of this prohibition was more crime. By trying to get rid of one lesser evil they created many greater evils. One thing that America has done successfully is reducing the use of tobacco. They did this not by prohibition, but by education(NORML 3).

The second direction somebody could take on the marijuana issue is decriminalization. Decriminalization means to make things less criminal. Marijuana is the third most used drug in today s society next to alcohol and tobacco. 70 million Americans have used marijuana in their lives. Of these, 18 million have smoked in the last year, and ten million are regular users(NORML 1).

Marijuana has been called the gateway drug, but is it really? In high school most kids try smoking cigarettes and then they experiment with alcohol. How many teenagers experiment with marijuana before they try cigarettes and alcohol? Not many if there is any at all. So why is it that marijuana is called the gateway drug not cigarettes or alcohol, all three of them are harmful drugs.

The United States is a country that allows alcohol consumption but bans the use of marijuana. There is no evidence of marijuana causing an overdose, while on the other hand many people die of alcohol poisoning each year. Alcohol poisoning is not the only type of death related to alcohol. Four in ten traffic deaths involve alcohol. Alcoholics have a six to fifteen times greater risk of committing suicide. Seven out of ten drowning victims had consumed alcohol prior to their death. Criminals caught for violent acts are more likely to be under the influence of alcohol then any other illicit drug. According to Eitzen and Zinn Alcohol claims about 100,000 lives a year, 25 times as many as all illegal drugs combined (506-512).

Finally there is the argument for continued prohibition. There are some negative aspects to marijuana just as there is to every drug. A person can become chemically dependant on marijuana. Being chemically dependent on marijuana makes the person crave the drug and also more of it to get the same effects as before. Marijuana is also the first illicit drug tried by people; this then can lead to other illicit drugs. There are some negative short term side effects associated with marijuana like trouble with memory, anxiety, and paranoia. Use of marijuana for an extended amount of time can cause some long-term effects too. Some of these include damage to the immune system, loss of short-term memory, and lung cancer(Stiefell 3).

I presented three brief directions that somebody could take on the marijuana issue. It is up to the individual to decide whether the positives out weigh the negatives or vise versa. I will leave you with this. Is it justified for the United States government to spend 7.5 billion dollars on a losing battle of marijuana control when they could be fighting for hungry children, homeless people, or bettering the education system.

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